With the NFL free agency frenzy finally dying down, it is time to look back on how each team has performed so far this offseason. Free agent signings and trades can turn a team into a Super Bowl contender or a laughing stock for years to come.
The Minnesota Vikings were very active this offseason, signing multiple key players. Here is a look at how they faired.
Key acquisitions: QB Kirk Cousins, QB Trevor Siemian, DT Sheldon Richardson
Key departures: QB Case Keenum, RB Jerick McKinnon, DT Tom Johnson, OL Joe Berger, CB Terence Newman
Re-signings: S Anthony Harris, K Kai Forbath
For the Minnesota Vikings, the signing of quarterback Kirk Cousins has highlighted their offseason. Cousins signed a three-year deal worth $84 million at the beginning of free agency. The Vikings also traded for the Broncos’ Trevor Siemian to fill in as the team’s backup quarterback. The Vikings capped off their active free agency period with signing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to a one-year deal.
First, let’s look at the Cousins signing. After a handful of productive seasons in Washington D.C., Kirk Cousins will be making $28 million a year, the highest salary in NFL history. The contract is also fully guaranteed, a groundbreaking feat for an NFL player.
Cousins is an improvement over 2017 starter Case Keenum and the rehabilitating Teddy Bridgewater. Cousins is a Pro Bowl level player with the potential to turn the Minnesota Vikings into Super Bowl favorites.
The concern, however, is the cost to land Cousins. Many would argue that $28 million per year is far too much to pay for a quarterback with no playoff wins. The improvement of production from Keenum to Cousins is clear, but it may not be worth the extra cost. In 2018, Keenum will make $15 million and Teddy Bridgewater will make $6 million. Assuming the Vikings would have paid that much for both players, that still leaves $7 million to spare.
The money spent on Cousins could have been set aside for players that are due for new contracts. Stefon Diggs, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Trae Waynes are all slated to leave after the 2018 season. Now general manager Rick Spielman will have to choose who stays and who leaves after next season.
Along with Cousins, the Vikings were also able to sign a top player on the defensive side of the ball. Sheldon Richardson, a former Pro Bowl defensive tackle, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Vikings in March. He will play alongside Linval Joseph at the defensive tackle position.
The New York Jets drafted Richardson in 2013, where he looked like a future star in his first two seasons. His production then declined when the Jets’ slowly became one of the league’s worst teams. Last season, Richardson was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, where he transitioned from a 3-4 defensive end to a 4-3 defensive tackle.
By the end of the season, he impressed Seattle’s coaching staff by showing his limitless potential. After failing to agree to terms with the Seahawks, Richardson became a free agent.
With Joseph, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and the newly-signed Richardson, the Vikings now have a formidable defensive line heading into the 2018 season.
The forgotten transaction of the Vikings’ offseason was the trade for Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian. The Vikings gave up a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for Siemian. They will also receive Denver’s seventh-round pick in this year’s draft.
Siemian showed potential early in his career with the Broncos and looked like Denver’s future starter. However, during a tumultuous 2017 season, Siemian struggled with ball security and was wildly inconsistent. He was later benched for draft bust Paxton Lynch.
Despite his struggles, Siemian will prove to be a solid backup for the Vikings. He has experience as a starter and will come at a very cheap price, which is essential for Minnesota.
The Minnesota Vikings made two splash free agent signings with Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson. Both players are extremely talented and will boost this team into a Super Bowl contender. However, the Cousins deal is extremely troubling for the future of this team.
By paying $28 million per year for Cousins, the Vikings are risking their future for success this year. With limited cap space going forward, coach Mike Zimmer will have to say goodbye to some of the players that made his defense the NFL’s best.
Minnesota Vikings offseason grade: C+
Featured image by John Autey/Pioneer Press
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